Jan 312014

Old Susannah aka Suzanne Kelly gets to grips with current news in the City of Culture.


The rains are lashing us, the sun never seems to shine, and I know we’re all thinking the same thing – wouldn’t it be great if we could hang around together in a civic square to celebrate.

Until such time a Toto are booked to play an outdoor show on the Sir Ian Wood Public Civic Square and Car Park, I’ll have to make do with some excellent acoustic music at BrewDog on Tuesday evenings (and the prototype beer Intersteller is rather fine, too). Congrats to BrewDog and all its 237 staff for creating some real jobs, real revenue, and of course real craft brews.

I did have a few beers to console myself – Led Zeppelin won Rock Album of the Year at the Grammys; I’d been rooting for Justin Beiber all the way. Maybe next time.

There is quite a bit of news this week, but when it comes to happenings in the Deen, I’m a bit stumped. I’ve been trying to get hold of a local newspaper all week, but when I go to the shops, I can only find architectural journals.

It seems that the most innovative thing since granite web ramps may be heading our way – we may get a glass-covered walkway and a second train station. Apparently the whole city favours these developments; how wonderful is that? The broken heart may yet be mended.

The air quality in Aberdeen may be cumulatively the worst in Scotland, according to those left wing Friends of the Earth people, but just think though – if we cover part of Union Street with a glass canopy, then we won’t have to worry about the outdoor air quality any more. I can practically hear you say ‘connectivity’ out loud, too.

I’d no idea there were so many architectural experts writing for the P&J, and yet only one architectural firm, Halliday Fraser Munro, is of sufficient merit to be worth writing about. Perhaps there are dozens of other firms employing draftsmen and designers to work for free making grand drawings and sending them to ACSEF and Aberdeen Journals hoping for cover stories.

If so, I guess they’re just not as good as the glass ceiling and the glass pyramid near the former Union Terrace Gardens, which looks set to be a concrete slab where we can all get together.

there is a scandalous move to install the Golden Eagle as the national bird of Scotland

Precisely what we’ll all be getting together to do other than shop or park, and when the window of opportunity will come weather-wise, are questions that Halliday Fraser Munro have yet to answer. Keep reading the architectural digest formerly known as The Press & Journal, no doubt all will be revealed.

While it’s not like me to be critical or ask questions, this all somehow seems just too beautiful, creative and wonderful to be true.

In a nutshell, our beating heart needs new life and a facelift to be forward facing, but we can get rid of the green lungs UTG provides, and just ignore the air quality. Perhaps it’s time for some face-related definitions.

But first, there is a serious issue which the Conservative Party’s Jackson Carlaw (no, I haven’t heard of him before now, either) brought up at Holyrood: there is a scandalous move to install the Golden Eagle as the national bird of Scotland. I’m sure you’re as surprised as I am, but no – they haven’t all been poisoned yet. Of course you’ll be as outraged by this affront as I am – obviously the Golden Eagle of Scotland is synonymous with the Nazis of the 1940s.

According to the Herald Scotland, Carlaw wants us to have the Robin instead (which also is a species in decline).  Carlaw said :

“The golden eagle is the symbol of an empire that once invaded large parts of Scotland, and more recently of another empire that tried to”

It is not clear in the above sentence whether he was referring to the Nazis, the Romans (who never did anything for us), or the Conservatives.

When I contacted a Jewish friend of mine for an indignant quote about the scandalous suggestion to associate Scotland’s Golden Eagles with Scotland, they said:

“Are you sure you have this right Suzanne?”

I wonder if this association with bad birds was behind the Stewart Milne desire to ‘discourage’ our only city centre pair of Peregrine Falcons from their former Triple Kirks home. He applied for and got permission (big surprise there) to get the birds ‘discouraged’ – i.e. moved on from their roost over UTG when Milne owned Triple Kirks.

Lucky for Aberdeen Milne did so – we could have been associated with Falcons, the Maltese Falcon and the Millennium Falcon if we hadn’t got rid of the birds.

I for one will go to sleep tonight safe in the knowledge that the Conservative Party, having already done so much for Scotland and the UK still has such tireless energy that it can solve our economic problems, support our struggling bankers, care for our environment, and make sure we’re not associated with the Romans or the Nazis because of our Golden Eagles.


If you’re forward looking, you’re cool, happening, modern and with it

With Aberdeen set to demonstrate its love of seagulls with glass covered streets so we can see the birds, and of course experience the beautiful quality of their droppings, I think we should give Carlaw’s brave stance the respect it is due.

Time for some definitions.

Forward Looking: (old-fashioned Aberdonian public sector phrase) –  a phrase used to convince the public the city is not backwards looking.

It’s no wonder we are building such amazing glass structures and getting rid of our old, boring granite buildings; we’re forward looking after all. Previous councils said so, so it must be true.  Here is an example of the phrase in a sentence from council documents:

“The delivery of the Council New Build Programme is a key objective of the Council’s Vibrant, Dynamic and Forward Looking policy;” from ACC_Contract_Award_comm_report_phase_1_Byron_Parkfinal

 (The above phrase comes from documents which they tried to withhold. This was to stop us from knowing how much  money one of our illustrious, if follicley-challenged, builders was making from us at the same time as he was buying property from the city for a fraction of its value. A free ticket to an Aberdeen Football Club match goes to the first reader who successfully guesses who I’m referring to).

If you’re forward looking, you’re cool, happening, modern and with it. You also probably want to build cubes with glass curtain walls.

The phrase appears in numerous council documents, although strangely not in any from the time the city was creating Marischal College, St Nicholas Kirk or the Citadel. Rest assured, we’re looking forward. We may be going backward in terms of aesthetics, environment and creativity, but we’re looking forward anyway.

Old Face Syndrome: (modern English phrase) –  a common facial trait whereby the corners of the mouth turn perpetually downward in a frown rather than smiling.

This phenomenon may be as old as Sir Ian, but it’s only recently been given a name. Apparently despite our current economic success, equality, fair system of justice and transparent, accountable governments, some people seem to frown. Shocking.

But perhaps there is a more apt local definition of ‘Same Old Face Syndrome?’ The Aberdonian definition is for ACSEF, Aberdeen Journals Ltd and the City to continue to rely on and listen to the Same Old Faces. Need a City of Culture Bid? Let Rita Stephen do it all. Need a quote about how the city’s retail is in trouble? Ask forward-facing Michie the Chemist to supply one (preferably standing in front of his avant-garde shop window).

Need someone to tell us the obvious truth that Donald Trump has brought millions of pounds and thousands of jobs to Aberdeenshire? Get hotelier Spence to tell us about his 93% increase in guests (in the 30 or so rooms in the hotel he’s selling). Need someone to tell us we need to keep building new identikit houses in the greenbelt? Ask impartial Stewart Milne.

Yes, it’s old face syndrome around here as far as I can tell. Still, as they say, ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ – so I guess we’ll keep listening to the same collection of successes.

About Face: (Eng Phrase) – to change direction or decision abruptly

Back when Stewart Milne wanted to get rid of all that boring, underused open space at Loirston Loch to put up a new stadium which all of the AFC fans wanted, one of the forces objecting was the Labour Party.

Labour’s Richard Baker put in an objection to the plan – yet when the official papers were published, only MSP Brian Adam’s objection was printed. Kate Dean sent me an email denying Baker sent anything in, but Richard proved successfully that his objection had been emailed in advance of the deadline.

It was all OK though, that the large public meeting didn’t get Baker’s objection, because Kate apologised after the fact. Calamity Kate (as the mainstream media were then calling her) ran a public consultation, acting as convener, despite her involvement with the local Cove Bay football team, which would have benefitted had the scheme gone ahead. Ah, those were the days.

Nowadays, we know that a huge number of birds of different species depend on Loirston Loch for water and habitat. We know that meadowland, an area which supports our threatened but very necessary bees, is the fastest-disappearing type of habitat. We know that Wellington Road, which turns into the dual carriageway at Loirston, is one of our most heavily polluted roads. We also know about urban sprawl and how important green space is to health and well-being.

Therefore it is something of an about face that there is widespread support cross party for developing Loirston as a housing estate. Was Baker acting on his own at the time of his objection? Do Labour care about the remaining environment more than profit?  Draw your own conclusions.  http://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/news/local/planners-back-1-067-new-homes-for-aberdeen-1.174468

Next week:  more reviews of the undoubted further http://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/news/local/planners-back-1-067-new-homes-for-aberdeen-1.174468exciting architectural news from our local papers.

  •  Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

  One Response to “Old Susannah’s Journal No. 142 – Face Off”

  1. It damned well beggars belief that this is still going on! WHO has paid the bill for the latest “bold vision”? It wouldn’t be our couthie Sir would it? In whose pocket the P & J seems to nestle.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>